Otumoetai College senior girls' teams produced outstanding performances at the prestigious Australian Volleyball Schools Cup held in Melbourne last week.
The event is the highlight on the Australian schools' volleyball calendar and attracted nearly 500 teams to compete over five days. Otumoetai's Senior A team won a silver medal in the top Open Girls' Honours division while the Senior B team won gold in the Open Girls' Division One. Otumoetai's under-17 boys' team won the playoff for eighth in their highly competitive division.
The Senior B girls' lost their opening game to Iona but then won seven straight before beating Iona 2-1 in the final. The road to the final was a similar tale for the Senior A girls', who lost to Brighton on the opening day and then went undefeated before losing to Brighton 3-0 in the final.
Stewart Henderson, who began teaching at Otumoetai College in 1970 and is the longest-serving staff member at the school, coached the Senior A team.
He is understandably delighted with the overall performances.
"We have had a very good week. The Senior B's lost their first game to Iona in a close battle but were always on top in the final. Standout players were captain Abbey Grainger, the setter Lisa Miller and Sophie Samson also played really well," Henderson said.
"That makes them basically the 13th ranked team in Australia for senior girls, which we can be pretty proud of. They are coached by Tracey Braddock."
The competition for the top award in the Honours section was fierce with Otumoetai up against the top 10 teams from throughout Australia plus Christchurch's Burnside High School.
"It is a tough competition and if you had asked me four weeks ago 'do you think you can get to the final?' I would have said 'no way'," Henderson said.
"I really only had Emily Farron and Kahla Tyson from that team I had from Year 9 right through. I lose those players but I retain seven for our term one 2016 senior championship.
"It served two purposes. It gave those two a great send-off and has basically given us a good preparation for our senior nationals. So we exceeded beyond my expectations which is awesome as a coach. Some of the younger players have really come on like Marnie Hunter, Kahu Te Kani and Rosie Sussex.
"The final was maybe one game too far. We played nine games of tough competition over the four and a half days. Our best win was probably the 3-2 win against Burnside, who are our national champions and we finished third at nationals. But that game drained us the night before the final.
"I was really pleased with the teams. It was a huge development for us."